Halloween was made for rock and roll.
If you need proof, just take a look at our event calendar for this weekend — Hot Congress Halloween Show at the Skylark Lounge, 1st Annual DIY or Die Halloween Megafest at Astroland, Haunted Halloween hip-hop show at Casselman’s, the Monsters of Mock show with the Nuns of Brixton at 3 Kings Tavern, Halloween Hootenanny at the Bluebird and the already-in-costume Mighty 18 Wheeler at Rockaway Tavern — plus our beloved traditional Halloween shows (which also happen to be our beloved traditional New Year’s Eve shows), Slim Cessna and DeVotchKa.
And that’s just tonight! The masquerade of mayhem continues through the weekend, with countless opportunities to rock on with a costume on. In the Mile High City, you’re guaranteed to get maximum mileage out of that DJ Pauly D wig or that Clara Peller mask.
What is it that makes Halloween in Denver such a music-heavy event? Well, in my unqualified opinion, it’s all about the id.
Not to get all psychoanalytical on your ass, but when Doktor Freud divided up the human psyche into the ego, the super-ego and the id, he saved all the sexy, creepy stuff for last. In describing that part of our selves that craves pleasure and avoids pain, our friend, Sigmund, called the id, “a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations.”
Cauldron? Heck, his words are even Halloween-y!
And it’s Halloween that encourages us to unchain our ids — to let what Freud called “the dark, inaccessible part of our personality” roam free, unencumbered by social mores or our usual sense of who we are. On Halloween, even those of us who would never think of acting in the theater play roles that emancipate us from our daily lives. Whether we dress up as Yo Gabba Gabba characters or penises, we give ourselves permission to be some part of ourselves that we usually keep handcuffed to the bedpost.
And what goes better with our newfound freedom than an appropriately chaotic and cathartic soundtrack. After all, that description — that cauldron of seething excitations — also sounds a heck of a lot like a really great rock show. And it’s not just alcohol talking. The crush of people at the foot of the stage, the sweat of performers and audience mingling with the beer and Coke on the floor, the rush of endorphines, the sheer volume of the music, the sense that things could go very right or very wrong at any moment, the theatricality, the unbridled intensity — all of it feeds and frees the sludge and glitter lodged in the darker folds of our brains and sends it flying off into the night sky, ecstatic and terrifying.
At great rock shows, you’ll see guys who worry about ROI all day crowd-surfing and throwing up the horns. You’ll see women who run companies taking off their shirts and getting into fights. On Halloween, you see all of this in the literal guise of a children’s holiday dress-up tradition.
And it’s good. Like rock music, Halloween is a relief. It’s a release valve that allows us to let a little pressure off our egos to enable us to continue acting like calm, constructive, well-adjusted members of the human community. By putting on our Borat costumes and reeling around Bender’s Tavern to Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, we let our ids out for a night, and give our brains some much-needed breathing room.
So if you’re wondering what to do with your Halloween weekend, consider forgoing the punch bowl parties, the haunted houses and the corn mazes. Instead, put on that Robin Williams wig and those rainbow suspenders, and go catch some live rock and roll. Your brain will thank you.
Be sure to check out today’s Denver Post for information about more great music going on this Halloween weekend.
Eryc Eyl is a veteran music journalist, critic and Colorado native who has been neck-deep in local music for many years. Check out Steal This Track every Tuesday for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout every Friday. Against his mother’s advice, Eryc has also been known to tweet. You can also follow Steal This Track on Twitter. Sorry, Mom.